What Is the Difference Between a Fire Pit and a Fire Bowl & What To Expect?

two different photos split in the middle one showing a fire bowl and lower a regular fire pit

From the outset, firepits and fire bowls appear to be the same thing, but some key differences set them apart. Understanding these differences is important as it will likely influence your decision when deciding which to buy for your outdoor space.

A firepit is typically a permanent structure made from stone or metal built into the ground. A fire bowl is a free-standing, moveable container made from various materials. Firepits are more durable, but they require more maintenance. Fire bowls are more portable, but they provide less heat.

In the rest of this article, I’ll go into more detail about the differences between firepits and fire bowls, including exactly what each structure is, which is better and what you should consider before investing in any of them. Let’s dive in.

What Is a Fire Pit?

A fire pit is a permanent gas or wood-fired structure that is built into the ground (not all, some are free-standing fire pits of course). Most firepits are wood-fired.

Firepits usually feature a seating area around them, so they become spaces for social gatherings or for enjoying the outdoors in warmth and comfort. Many people also like to use them for cooking.

One of the most significant benefits of having a firepit is that it can be used year-round, regardless of the weather. They are also attractive additions to a yard and can double up as a patio or backyard focal point when not in use.

What Is a Fire Bowl?

A fire bowl is a moveable bowl-like container made from various materials, such as metal, stone, or even ceramic. It’s much smaller than a fire pit and is usually gas-powered.

You might be interested in the best tabletop and mini fire pits.

The bowl is typically mounted on a pedestal, table, or other elevated platforms to keep it off the ground. The gas can be supplied via a mains supply or, more commonly, via a bottle supply. Wood-burning bowls are available but less common.

The standard size for a fire bowl ranges from 45 to 68 inches in diameter (114 cm to 172 cm). You can get smaller bowls, but these become less about warmth and more of a decorative element for the yard.

Thanks to their portable nature, you can easily move fire bowls around.

Firepits – What You Need To Consider

If you’re considering a firepit for your outdoor space, it’s important to remember that it requires more maintenance than a fire bowl: it needs to be regularly cleaned and the ashes removed.

Since a firepit is a permanent structure, you can’t move it around. You need to carefully consider where you want to place it before installing it.

Yet, fire pits are excellent for creating an ambient space in your garden and provide great warmth on cold days.

Here’s a great video from Bro Builds that explains how to build your own firepit:

Fire Bowls – What You Need To Consider

The disadvantage of fire bowls is that they are not as durable as firepits. They can also tip over if not appropriately weighted. This can make them hazardous, especially if you have young children or pets around the home.

Due to their smaller size, they don’t provide as much heat as a firepit and may not be suitable for cooking. 

Overall, fire bowls are less practical than firepits, but they are far better suited to small spaces and look more attractive than fire pits.

Check out this video from DIY Creators to learn how to make your own fire bowl:

A Firepit or Fire Bowl – Which Is Better?

The answer to this question depends on your needs and preferences. If you’re looking for something that is easy to maintain and doesn’t require any effort to get going or clean, then a fire bowl is suitable for you.

However, if you’re looking for something larger that family and friends can gather around and enjoy, a firepit is the better choice, despite the extra maintenance required.

What To Consider When Buying a Firepit Or Fire Bowl

If you’ve decided to invest in a firepit or fire bowl, there are several things you need to keep in mind. These include:

  • The size of your backyard
  • The size of the firepit or fire bowl 
  • Where you will place it
  • The material of your firepit or fire bowl
  • Any safety concerns including low-hanging branches from trees, trip hazards, etc.
  • Your budget and how much you’re willing to spend on a firepit or fire bowl. 
  • Additional accessories, such as a fire guard or cover.

What Is the Best Material for a Firepit or Fire Bowl?

Some common materials for firepits and bowls include metal, stone, and ceramic. Each material has its benefits and drawbacks, so choosing the right one is essential.

Metal is usually the most affordable option. However, metal fire pits and bowls can rust over time and may require more maintenance than other materials.

Stone firepits and bowls are more durable and often look more natural in a backyard setting, but they are more expensive and may require professional installation.

Ceramic firepits and bowls are a unique option. They’re often very decorative and can add a touch of elegance to any backyard. On the other hand, they can be fragile and may not be as durable as other materials.

Firepit or Fire Bowl: Which Is Cheaper?

The answer to this question depends on your chosen materials and the size of the firepit or fire bowl. In general, firepits are more expensive than fire bowls. This is because they’re built into the ground and require a degree of landscaping when building them.

With that said, many affordable options are available, so it’s essential to shop around and compare prices before making a purchase.

I really like this Giantex Propane Firebowl column-style (available on Amazon.com). The brick facade column hides the propane bottle and adds weight to the structure making it more stable and safe.

What Safety Precautions Do You Need To Take for a Firepit and Fire Bowl?

When lighting any type of fire, it’s important to take the proper safety precautions. This includes ensuring that the area around the firepit or bowl is clear of debris, keeping a fire extinguisher close by, and never leaving the fire unattended. 

Additionally, you should never put flammable liquids in the fire or try to burn garbage. If you have a wood-fired pit or bowl, only burn wood that has been properly dried and seasoned.

A fire guard is not required for pits or bowls, but it is recommended. A fire guard will help to keep the fire contained and prevent embers from escaping. You must choose a fire guard that’s made from non-flammable material and is the proper size for your fire pit or bowl.

Do You Need a Permit for a Firepit and Fire Bowl?

No, you don’t need a permit to have a firepit or fire bowl in your yard. However, there are general rules for when and what you can burn. For example, it may be illegal to have a firepit or bowl burning during seasons when wildfires are high risk.

To understand the rules in your area, check with your local authorities.

Conclusion

Both fire pits and fire bowls can be great additions to your home’s outdoor space and really up the wow factor in any yard. Just make sure you take the time to consider both options and decide whether a bowl or pit is best for your needs. The right choice will give you plenty of enjoyment for years to come.

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